THE long-awaited criminal trials of the murder-accused former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, will begin on 9 October this year, the High Court has said.
High Court judge, Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo, announced the trial date on Friday after the prosecution told him that the judges to preside over all criminal cases involving the members of the security agencies, namely the army, police and correctional services would be available in the country from September.
In the first case which has been set for 9 to 12 October, Lt-Gen Tlali stands accused of murder in connection with the killing of Police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko at the Police Headquarters in Maseru during the attempted coup of 30 August 2014.
Lt-Gen Kamoli is charged alongside Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa.
In the second case, the former army chief is facing 14 counts of attempted murder in connection with the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana.
The attempted murder case has been set for 16 to 19 October 2018.
In this case the former Lt-Gen Kamoli is charged alongside Major Pitso Ramoepane, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Heqoa Malefane and Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko.
Lt-Gen Kamoli retired on 1 December 2016 and he was arrested in October 2017, just a few months after the advent of the Thomas Thabane-led four party regime in June 2017.
He has been languishing in custody at the Maximum Security Prison since his arrest and his bid for release on bail was denied by High Court judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa.
Justice Moiloa ruled in November 2017 that Lt-Gen Kamoli had failed in his bail application to substantiate his claim that he was suffering from influenza which required him to be in close proximity to his doctors.
Justice Moiloa also ruled that Lt-Gen Kamoli had failed to demonstrate that there were exceptional circumstances that warranted his release on bail as required by law.
Lt-Gen Kamoli appeared before the High Court on 16 March 2018 and on that day, Justice Nomngcongo formally informed him about the murder charge.
However, the High Court could not set the trial dates it was not clear when the foreign judges who are expected to preside over the cases involving Lt-Gen Kamoli and other members of the security agencies would be available in Lesotho.
Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara held a meeting in April this year with the accused’s lawyers and the prosecution in which she informed them about the government plan to engage foreign judges in all criminal cases involving army officers.
However, the defence lawyers have said they will oppose the involvement of the foreign judges in their clients’ cases.
The lawyers say they have full confidence in the local judges and they will file lawsuits against the use of foreign judges.